Guest post

Countdown to Release and Life Lessons from Emma Jean

First of all, I've got a guest post over at Always Well Within today.  If you don't know Sandra's blog, you should.  She writes about spiritual and personal development matters in a way that always makes me feel calm and peaceful.  Just going to her space centers me. 

The topic of my guest post there is 10 Life Lessons From Emma Jean.  Sandra suggested the title and I immediately loved it.  And then I stressed a lot a bit over the writing of it, because I loved the topic so much and I wanted it to be right.  It ended up being a lot of fun to write, once I got over my angst, and I'm happy with the result.  I'd love it if you checked it out.

And, tomorrow is the big day.  It is the official release day of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior (although the book is already available everywhere, except in the Kindle version which I can't quite figure out).  I'm celebrating with a Virtual Release party, which you can still sign up for, and I'll be back tomorrow with a post about the release process.

Please go read Sandra's blog!


Guest Post: It’s Between the Page and I, 6 Things I Learned Over 10 Days of Morning Pages

While I'm on retreat, I've got a variety of guest posts for you.  Today, please welcome Resham Khiani, as she writes about morning pages.

It's Between the Page and I, 6 Things I Learned Over 10 Days of Morning Pages

by Resham Khiani

It's 8:00am on Saturday morning.

Another long, hard week in London has come to an end and I'm looking forward to a cosy lie in…. until the challenge I've set myself bursts my bubble.

For 10 days straight, I will be doing my Morning Pages Exercises. For those of you who are new to hearing it for the first time, they are an exercise devised by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way. The concept is basic: write three long hand pages, non-stop once you wake up in the morning. It doesn't matter what you write, just write…. even if it's line after line of "I don't know what to write,"  your subconscious mind will kick in and messages will appear.

Bleary eyed, I made my way to the kitchen, prepared a green tea and grudgingly sat at my desk. "I'm too tired to write" – the voice of sabotage has arrived. I gently say to shut up or I will smack it (I know, I know, it's weird, how on earth can anyone smack their conscious mind?!). A sip of green tea and my hand begins to glide, almost insanely, within seconds. Scribbling messily, sloppily, uncontrollably I see I'm just whinging and moaning about all the things in my life. I'm fed up, tired, can't be bothered and don't want to take responsibility of my life.

But then, I feel an urgent message coming along, something profound, almost spiritual. I'm alert. I'm ready: "Do you remember what it was like to fall in love?" Before I answer this message, my subconscious begins misbehaving and complaining how annyoing my flatmate has become. It begins hatching a plan all by itself, with me, merely being an onlooker with no say. All I know is, the retalation is quite harsh. And then I hear: "muhahahahaha." Note to reader: writing down the evil laugh diminishes it's effect.

Each day, of course, was a battlefield with the mind. Getting up on time to actually do the exercise was a challenge; however, I remained disciplined throughout. Looking back at my pages, I could see myself swinging from exhilarating happiness, to downright depression, to simmering, passionate feelings and finally spiritual, optimistic statements. The Morning Pages revealed so many messages in a short space of time. And they were:

1) I write a lot about sex, so much so, I make myself blush after I finish reading it! (I blame the Mills & Boon romance books I read on a regular basis, whereas Sigmund Freud will blame me for suppressing my natural instincts).

2) I goad myself to set up my own business, based on NLP and helping woman change their beauty beliefs.

3) I have a depressive and philosophical streak in me enough to put Milan Kundera (author of The Incredible Lightness of Being) to shame.

4) Apart from being depressive, at the base of it, I'm optimistic, and realise I have the power to direct my thoughts.

5) I question myself too much: I live too much in the future or past,without fully being present.

6) I am a diva.

Putting ink on paper, coupled with honesty is a revelation to oneself. Morning Pages have switched on my intuition, my creativity, my belief of trusting myself. I realised I had fallen out of love with my life and my creativity – hence the reason why I got such a message. As a result of being persistent with the exercises, I no longer walk around with a feeling of frustration or anger because I've dealt with it on paper. I'm free from negative emotions and drama. Funnily enough, my life has become simpler, more fun, opportunities are flowing, inspiration is soaring. I'm writing a lot more, I've got a few romantic dates lined up and certainly feel life is on my side. Perhaps getting up on the first morning really was the beginning of a new life……



Resham Khiani (on the left in the photo) is the founder of InnerBellissima blog, devoted to helping
woman change their beauty beliefs. She writes regularly on her blog.

Guest Post: Engross Your Readers

While I’m away, I’ve got an array of guest posts for you.  Today’s comes from Alice Anderson.

Engross your readers

by Alice Anderson

I recently read an ARC from Karen Hawkins that got me thinking about ways to engross your readers. This book, The Taming of a Scottish Princess, did a fabulous job of it. So well in fact that I read straight through Dancing with the Stars and Castle!

So how do you engross your readers?

Well, it starts with your characters.

Let your readers in on an inside joke.

Why it works: We all like to be included. At some point or another we’ve all been in on an inside joke. Giving your characters an inside joke gives them a connection that they don’t have with other characters. It’s that connection that ties them; it gives them something in common. Relationships are often based on commonality. By giving the characters an inside joke, and letting the reader in on it, they’ll look for references to that joke throughout the book. I like to think of this as a thread that pulls them through the story.

Example: Michael Hurst and his assistant Jane Smythe-Haughton have a unique relationship. He’s an explorer. Think Indiana Jones. And she keeps his life running smoothly. She is charming and sunny and he is no nonsense. She doesn’t put up with his crap. In fact, she gives as good as she gets.

So what’s the inside joke? Though he acts as if he could live without her, she knows he can’t and she calls his bluff. They call each other silly names over the course of the book. They’re not menacing, rather playful. Always keeping each other in check. He’ll call her a “fainthearted twit,” to which she promptly replies “cravated grump.” And they go on and on with their tenderhearted insults.

This happens over and over throughout the course of the book, not over doing it, but showing that these two have spent a lot of time in each other’s company and that they understand each other. They respect each other. They pick at each other. This works for the story and I found myself looking for these “spitfire” moments between the two of them.

Give your characters habits.

Why it works: we all have habits. Twirling our hair, biting our nails, worrying our lower lip. Habits make us human, good or bad. Readers will begin to anticipate characters making those habits and if the habits mean something (for instance, I twirl my hair when I’m deep in thought) they can read the character’s mood without you having to tell them what the mood is.

Look for habits everywhere. Search on the web. Think about friends and family. Ask for suggestions via facebook or twitter.

Example: As Taming a Scottish Princess begins, Michael is at a ball and he’s tugged at his tie. Okay, okay it’s a cravat, but the point is, he does this several times during the course of the story. He does it when he’s impatient. And ultimately, that garment comes in handy, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why. I don’t want to give all the good stuff away.

Vary your dialog.

Why it works: A person’s speech can be as unique as a fingerprint. Do you have a phrase you use often? Perhaps you don’t even notice it. Ask someone who spends a lot of time with you. Give your characters a favorite phrase, a level of formality in their speech or even an accent and then carry it (or change it) over the course of the story.

Example: Michael is English with Scottish ancestors. Jane is Scottish with an English mother. Both of them have spent extensive time traveling the world but over the course of the story, Michael finds out that Jane is Scottish. As she talks about her homeland, her old accent comes out. When they travel to Scotland, they meet a character named Mrs. Farquhar and she has a thick accent, an accent that the author plays up. In this scene there are three people and you can tell who’s talking without any sort of dialog tag. Why? Because they each “sound” different through their accent and language.

So there you have it. Three quick and easy tips to take your novel from ordinary to extraordinary, engrossing your readers from the first page to the last.

Alice can be found on her Facebook and Twitter.